Monday, May 24, 2010

MeeGenius and Picture Book Apps: An Interesting Story

I had picture book apps on my mind after attending a meeting up at my kids' school last week. A learning counselor was talking about summer activities parents could do to keep kids' math and reading skills alive. One mother said her daughter wanted to read books on the Kindle, just like Mom and Dad. But she was worried about her daughter learning to read in an electronic format. What about the act of turning the page? Basic literacy skills? Engaging with a real book?

I contacted David K. Park who, along with Wandy Hoh, is founder of MeeGenius, a publisher of digital picture books for the iPad, iPod Touch, and the iPhone. MeeGenius has been listed on the New and Noteworthy section of iTunes, the What’s Hot section, and a staff favorite for the iPad.

“We launched our beta site and introduced the iPhone and iPad app on April 1st of this year,” says David in an online interview with dot.momming. Remember that the iPad hit the market on April 3, so they’re off and running.

“We’re ultimately creating these beautiful works to be read and enjoyed by children, so whatever medium they enjoy the most, we should adapt and provide it for them,” says David, who is the father of two young boys. “Furthermore, a digital platform will allow so many more talented authors and illustrators to get their works out there in the hands of children.”

Okay, sure, but let's get to the point: Change is bad. Everybody knows that, right?

What does an app publisher like MeeGenius have to say to calm parents and authors who are quaking in our collective boots? For authors and illustrators, we want our books to stand the test of time – in a library, on a bookshelf, under Junior’s bed! What are we supposed to do with all these changes in book publishing?

“We think you should embrace it and will be pleasantly surprised by it.”

I can see what it means for parents like me: I’m driving on our annual 11-hour roadtrip to Grandmom’s house, only this time, instead of toting a bag full of bulky picture books to keep the troops happy in the car, I download an entire library of them. In app form, those picture books are accessible at all times – whether we’re waiting in line at the St. Louis Arch, waiting for lunch at yet another Cracker Barrel, or trying to fill the endless miles.

As parents, we want our kids reading and engaging with books. So as iPad and other platforms enter the market, are parents ready for this new medium? Will they believe that their kids are getting the same out of this new experience as they are from traditional books?

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